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Students and parents must be part of effort to improve achievement

Agreement near on boosting black students | July 18, story

All must be part of the effort

I agree with the initiative to do something about black student achievement in Pinellas County schools. What I don't agree with is throwing more money at a problem if there is only a one-sided effort to succeed. The article stated that several commitments and agreements have been reached; that is a good thing.

If the parties involved do not receive a commitment from black parents and, most of all, black students, we might as well get ready for another lawsuit. We cannot move forward together if only some of us are willing to commit to the hard work. We cannot legislate or force individuals to be or become personally responsible for their own actions. We cannot continue to throw money into a losing endeavor. We are reinforcing failure and rewarding negative behavior if we only blame the system for a lack of black achievement.

No matter how hard we may try to move forward as one society, we will not move forward if all involved parties are not totally committed to succeeding. Some will be left behind. Who gets left behind will be based on personal decisions, not government actions.

Mario P. Rodriquez, St. Petersburg

An easy scapegoat

We teachers, administrators and assistants are bending over backward to help all children achieve to their highest abilities. We cannot control what children bring with them intellectually and emotionally. There is no quality control there. We are already held accountable. Placing blame on the schools, again, is an easy scapegoat. Short of doing backflips and taking the students home with us, we are doing our part through all sorts of programs, interventions and best practices.

Why not put accountability back to where it belongs, on the students' parents, the ones who are their first teachers? "Pay for Performance" is being talked about again, but they are aiming that pay at the wrong people. Offer the parents a "Pay for Performance" incentive. I'll bet then we'd see some effort from the families.

Nancy Clark Bloomer, Redington Shores

Dr. David J. Ciesla

Integrity is an essential

part of leadership

In my general surgery and neurological surgery residencies and as a neurosurgeon in Tampa for 26 years, I have removed bullets from patients. I would etch a "D" in it with a scalpel, make sure all those in the operating room saw it, and then would see that it got to the proper authorities. Finally, I would dictate that etching into the operative report. This was all to be able to identify that bullet in a court of law.

Treatment of the trauma patient is technical. Any person of average intelligence with enough desire, education, time and training can be a trauma surgeon. That is not the issue in the matter of Dr. David J. Ciesla. The issue is leadership. He was hired, not simply because he was a trauma surgeon, but as a person to represent the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital professionally and personally to students, residents, patients, the public and the medical community. This representation is not only local but also national and international. He has shown a profound lack of judgment.

David Gergen, in Eye Witness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 2000), makes the principle of the Ciesla matter clear. He quotes Sen. Alan Simpson's introduction of President Gerald Ford at Harvard: "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

How USF and TGH handle this matter will say much about their institutional cultures.

Donald L. Mellman, M.D., Tampa

Dr. David J. Ciesla

Doctor deserved better

I was shocked to see Friday's front-page article, and once I read through it, I was even more shocked that this was considered front-page news. Dr. David Ciesla is a very respected trauma surgeon and to smear him across the front page of the newspaper like a common criminal was completely unnecessary. Dr. Ciesla spends his day saving lives of citizens of our community — taking a bullet shell as a souvenir is hardly newsworthy.

I wonder if the newspaper staff or the law enforcement agents involved in the charges ever find themselves on the trauma bed of Tampa General under his care would they have a different opinion — like all of his other patients — and honor Dr. Ciesla as the hero that he is.

Lauren Tummel, Tampa

Salary + retirement = $300K | July 16, story

Is it service or money?

"Earl Lennard said it was his commitment to public service that pulled him out of retirement to become Hillsborough County's new supervisor of elections."

If Earl Lennard feels so strongly about his "commitment to public service" how about working for $1 a year and letting the county use the remaining $131,999 to keep other employees on the work force. Instead of always saying it's all about public service, the reality is that it is all about the money, i.e.: What's in it for me?

Also, it's nice to know about the agricultural exemption — paying $62 on an estimated land value of $500,000. He must have learned that from one of his predecessors, Buddy Johnson.

Integrity, public service, agriculture exemptions — what a joke. And Charlie Crist must be the joker.

Max Staszak, Valrico

A low-tax solution | July 18, letter

A grim idea

Why stop with eliminating cigarette taxes, as the letter writer suggests? Let's also abolish all traffic laws, signs and traffic signals. This will cause the death rate from accidents to increase, putting even fewer people on Social Security.

Next, let's close all emergency rooms, reassigning doctors and nurses to care for those who can afford to pay. This will cause the death rate of middle and lower class citizens to increase, putting still fewer people on Social Security. I think we just eliminated the deficit and solved the health care crisis all at once.

The original letter was satirical, right? Because no one would seriously advocate death as a solution for economic problems. Would they?

Kevin McVan, Clearwater

Dan Ruth is ignoring your Facebook request July 17, Daniel Ruth column

Helping families connect

While I appreciate Dan Ruth's acerbic humor as much as anyone, I must comment on his recent panning of social networking sites such as Facebook.

As someone rapidly approaching the age of 50, I get it that most people couldn't care less that one of their "friends" just ran out of dog food or "just got bitten by the biggest mosquito EVER."

However, for those of us with far-flung families and friends (in the real sense of the word), these sites can be a wonderful thing. They can help us keep up with the goings-on and make sharing photos of family events that we can't attend easy. However, I do believe that these sites should not take the place of cultivating local friendships and involvement in one's community, but supplement them.

So, lighten up, Dan. Besides, if Garrison Keillor ever decides to add you as a "friend," you can merrily hit the "ignore" key. I know I would.

Suzanne Inzina, Largo

Walter Cronkite 1916-2009 | July 18, story

Shoes that can't be filled

While we all knew it was bound to happen sooner or later, the death of Walter Cronkite at age 92 is sad nonetheless.

Indeed, Cronkite was in a class of his own. He was honest, with the utmost integrity — plus he was just downright likable.

No, they don't make newsmen like him anymore. Perhaps we can compare him with a dying breed of dinosaurs. When the most trusted man in America dies, in my opinion, there's just no filling his shoes.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

An operating system for hurricanes? July 17

Delete coverage?

If Bill Gates' hurricane prevention device is as reliable as his Windows software, we can expect all home insurance companies still operating in Florida to pull out.

Tom Flinn, Sun City Center

Students and parents must be part of effort to improve achievement 07/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:44pm]
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